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Salmon Arm  

Salmon Arm RCMP searching for man who robbed gas station

Gas bar robbed at gunpoint

A masked suspect robbed a gas station in Salmon Arm at gunpoint early Sunday.

About 6 a.m., RCMP were called to the Husky station on the Trans-Canada Highway, where a man armed with a handgun demanded cash before fleeing on foot.

The employee inside the store was not hurt in the incident.

"Investigators believe that the suspect entered the store unmasked moments prior to the robbery," says Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, spokesperson for the RCMP Southeast District. "Images of the suspect that had been captured on video surveillance are now being released publicly by police in an effort to advance the still ongoing investigation."

The suspect is described as a white male in his late teens or early twenties, with shaggy, dark hair. He was last seen wearing black sweatpants and a tri-colour hoodie with the colours grey, white and black from top to bottom. The suspect was also wearing a pair of white running shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to call Salmon Arm RCMP 250-832-6044 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.



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Concerns of flooding along Salmon River ease

Salmon River concerns ease

While rain fell across the Shuswap this weekend, clouds didn't deliver the deluge local officials were concerned about.

The Shuswap Emergency Program is monitoring the situation, but after less rain fell than expected and temperatures were lower than forecast, the risk of flooding in the region's streams and creeks wasn't as bad as was expected.

"Weather forecasts for the coming week are also showing cooler, drier weather, which will continue to assist with reducing flood risks," states the Columbia Shuswap Regional District in a press release.

Residents along the Salmon River were warned last week about the coming precipitation.

Sandbagging will continue this week for flood-prone areas along Shuswap Lake and Mara Lake. Flooding could be worse this year than 2018 in the Shuswap.



Shuswap flooding expected to exceed 2018 levels

Flood warning issued

Flood risk is rising in the Shuswap.

The Shuswap Emergency Program advises all residents near the Salmon River and smaller area creeks of increasing risk of severe flooding in the coming days due to the potential for extreme weather. 

"The combination of high temperatures in the next few days ... coupled with a forecast cold front moving into the area in the early morning hours of Sunday ... has the potential to create severe rainfall amounts," the SEP warns.

As a result, water levels could rise rapidly, with the possibility of flash flooding.

Potentially affected areas include Falkland, Silver Creek, Salmon Valley, Sunnybrae, Tappen, Sicamous, Mara and Malakwa.

The BC River Centre is forecasting Salmon River levels higher than severe flooding levels seen in 2018.

Residents in flood-prone areas are advised to:

  • Monitor the weather forecast and pay specific attention if there is intense rain
  • Undertake flood preparation measures to protect your property
  • Prepare for possible evacuation on short notice, including having a grab-and-go bag ready.

Sand and sandbags are being made available at 20 locations in the Shuswap area, see map.



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Salmon Arm man has not been seen for days

Where is Kenneth Derkach?

RCMP are requesting the public’s help in locating a missing Shuswap resident.

Kenneth Derkach, who usually frequents 3rd Street SW in Salmon Arm, was last seen on May 26.

Derkach is described as a Caucasian male, 56 years old, five feet, seven inches tall, 150 pounds, with balding grey hair, a grey beard and hazel eyes.

“The RCMP is concerned for Kenneth’s health and well being and urge anyone with information on the whereabouts of Kenneth Derkach to contact their local police, the Salmon Arm RCMP at 250-832-6044 or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477,” says Staff Sgt. Scott West.



School District 83 returning to voluntary in-class learning June 1

Classes go part-time

School districts across the province are preparing for voluntary in-class learning next week, with a June 1 part-time return to school in School District 83.

School life will not look the same as it did pre-pandemic, as there will be many changes that will be implemented to ensure a safe return to class.

"We would like to acknowledge that these changes may place additional stress on all our students and their families as well as our staff and their families," says SD83 in a press release. "While there are many positives to returning to some semblance of normal, there is understandable anxiety around safety, and uncertainties around how it will work."

The district is outlining how they have been preparing for back to school, which includes:

  • Surveying families about whether they will send their child back to school, and how often
  • Following up with families who haven't completed the survey
  • Informing parents what days their child will attend
  • Reducing K-5 Home Learning to allow staff to prepare classrooms
  • Implementing health and safety procedures
  • Having Health and Safety teams at each school to review safety plans for each individual school
  • Following the ministry guidelines in terms of strategies to minimize physical contact
  • Reducing class sizes to 50 per cent
  • Reducing school densities to 50 per cent for K-5 and 20 per cent for Grades 6-12
  • Arranging custodial staff daytime cleaning operations accordingly

"SD83 will follow the expectations of the Ministry which includes voluntary in-class instruction across the district while continuing to support vulnerable learners and students with designated special needs," says the district. "Each class and school in SD83 may look different as each situation is being tailored to the number of students who choose to return to school and the number that continue with home learning opportunities."

K-5 students will be utilizing the outdoors more often and washing their hands more frequently as playgrounds will opened. Each class will also be equipped with hand sanitizer and disinfectant.

In terms of busing, one students per seat will be allowed, or two students from the same household may share a seat. SD83 has not finalized this plan yet, and they are reviewing transportation survey results to properly assess busing needs.



Salmon Arm RCMP will be monitoring school zones on Monday

Watch your speed

If you're out and about around local schools on Monday, you might want to keep an eye on your speedometer.

The Salmon Arm RCMP will be out monitoring various school zones when classes resume, and will ticket those who are going too fast.

"Please heed the 30km speed in these school and playground zones as we move into the last month of school while it is in session," says Sgt. Scott West. "Fines for speeding in a school zone start at $196 and range up to $483 and could include impoundment of your vehicle for excessive speed and include points on your driver's licence."

School buses will also be back on the road, so the RCMP asks to follow their warning lights and yield their signals to keep children safe.



MLA's business says come on over as CSRD says stay away

Come on over, or stay away?

While regional politicians were urging outsiders not to travel to the Shuswap over the long weekend, a business in which the local MLA is a shareholder was actively urging out-of-province travellers to visit the area.

In a post that has since been deleted from the Twin Anchors Houseboat Vacations Facebook page, the business said: "All houseboaters welcome – even ones from other provinces."

Screenshots of the post show it had received hundreds of responses before it was removed.

It went on to say "Shuswap Lake is not a provincial campground. Public access beaches still available for houseboats."

BC Liberal MLA Greg Kyllo is a shareholder of the company.

Kyllo said Monday that while he is a shareholder and therefore part owner of Twin Anchors, since his election to public office he has played no role in its operation.

His brother, Todd, handles the operation, "and, as you can image, not every CEO is going to be aware of what his staff is sharing on social media all the time," Kyllo said Monday.

"As soon as he was aware of the post, he had it removed."

The post was counter to Shuswap Regional District chair Kevin Flynn's recent statement on May 13 urging people to forego unnecessary travel and stay close to home as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

"This is not the time to pack up the car or RV for a road trip or to head for your cabin. This is the time to stay local and check out all the great things about your home community," Flynn said just before the Victoria Day long weekend.

The Facebook post ruffled the feathers of some constituents.

"While our provincial health officer, health minister and premier have implored visitors from outside of B.C. to stay home and have closed provincial campgrounds to non-residents for the summer, our MLA thinks it’s a good idea to encourage non-residents to go against the PHO advice," resident Jackie Graham said in an email to Castanet with a screenshot of the post.

Kyllo acknowledged the importance of following public health advice on the coronavirus pandemic, and expressed hope that as numbers continue to remain low in B.C., that will lead to a further opening up of the economy.

"But, we obviously don't want to do that too soon," he said.



Albertan offers apology in wake of angry letter over 'stay away' message

Apology over cabin rant

An Alberta man who stirred up a hornet's nest of reaction over his comments about the Shuswap's plea for visitors to stay away over the Victoria Day long weekend is offering an apology.

Roger Dunkley of Calgary, who owns a cabin in the Shuswap, fired off an angry email following Columbia Shuswap Regional District chair Kevin Flynn's statement on May 13 urging people to forego unnecessary travel and stay close to home as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

"This is not the time to pack up the car or RV for a road trip or to head for your cabin. This is the time to stay local and check out all the great things about your home community," said Flynn.

Dunkley took exception to the "stay away" message, writing a long email to Shuswap politicians and the media, calling it an "insult" to the many Albertans who own vacation properties in the Shuswap.

"During all those decades we Albertan cabin owners have been coming to the Shuswap, we've been contributing heavily to your economy to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year," he wrote. "So now ... you're saying we're not welcome to go out and enjoy and self-isolate/social distance at our own properties? Thank you for your welcoming words and gratitude. So nice to know how we who contribute so handsomely to your local economy are appreciated and valued."

Dunkley said he would now make every effort to bring everything he needs with him from Alberta, so as not to spend any money in B.C.

"Words and actions have consequences," he wrote, "and these are the consequences of your insulting and thoughtless words."

But, after the story received more than 70,000 reads and was shared over 100 times on Facebook, with almost 1,000 comments, Dunkley says he has had time to rethink his position.

"I did receive a lot of hate for it – and a lot of support, too," he said Sunday on the phone from Calgary. "My aim was just to get people to think, but it was pretty heavy handed and a bit of an over reaction."

Dunkley says he can see why it would have been seen negatively by locals, and "I'm a little upset with myself. I should have put that letter away for a day and come back to it, but I didn't."

He said the "get out or stay out thing is not getting very good play over here. People are sensitive to it. Albertans already have a feeling of alienation, and this plays into that.

"A lot of people took exception, and rightly so. It was a stupid way to get my point across."

Saying he wants to calm the situation down, Dunkley said cabin owners should be allowed to visit their properties, but must also do "the responsible thing and act accordingly to protect themselves and others" during the pandemic if they have to run into town for supplies.

Dunkley says someone even went as far as contacting a local realtor to say he wanted to list his vacation property for sale. "I was shocked when I received a call from the realtor ... the whole experience frightened me a little bit. I never wanted to aggravate people like that."

Calling his letter impulsive, he said he regrets its tone and wants to make it clear that Albertans understand the concerns of British Columbians about COVID-19 being brought in by outsiders.

But, he said the messaging coming out of B.C. can be seen as harmful to the province's image, and there have been cases of Albertans' vehicles being keyed and tires slashed in other parts of B.C.

"For some time ... there has been a sentiment of alienation and of being under appreciated growing in Alberta, so this kind of news is just throwing more gas on that fire," he wrote in a follow up email.

"When I wrote my letter, my intent was to try and make all of that understood and to also get across what the negative consequences could be to B.C.'s image and economy," he wrote.

"In the end, we are all Canadians, and I think there are ways we can make it work and safe for all."



Albertan cabin owner says Shuswap plea to stay away an insult

'Insulted' by stay away plea

A Shuswap cabin owner is fuming over the Columbia Shuswap Regional District's public plea for Albertans to stay away.

CSRD chair Kevin Flynn asked Albertans to please stay home over the recent Victoria Day long weekend – and that has left Roger Dunkley steaming mad.

"I am from Alberta and own a cottage on Shuswap Lake. My family has owned that cabin and has been contributing to the local economy of Salmon Arm and Sorrento by paying property taxes, buying groceries, liquor and supplies such as lumber, hardware and paint and hiring local tradesmen since 1974," Dunkley said in an email to Castanet.

"There are dozens of other cabin owners in our bay (who) also come from Alberta. Quite a number of them have owned their cabins since the 1960s and '70s.

"During all those decades we Albertan cabin owners have been coming to the Shuswap, we've been contributing heavily to your economy to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year and paying more property tax than we do for our own homes in Alberta. And for all that property tax, the people in our bay get almost no services – no water, no sewer, no garbage service, and no fire department.

"So now ... you're saying we're not welcome to go out and enjoy and self-isolate/social distance at our own properties? Thank you for your welcoming words and gratitude. So nice to know how we who contribute so handsomely to your local economy are appreciated and valued."

Dunkley said he will now make every effort to bring everything he needs with him from Alberta, so as not to spend any money in B.C. 

"Henceforth, the only thing I will ever need to purchase in B.C. is gasoline – and I don't mind doing that since that product comes from Alberta," he wrote.

Dunkley says he cc'd the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce, mayor and council, CSRD directors and Sorrento Community Association on his angry rant, along with media in Calgary.

"Words and actions have consequences," he wrote, "and these are the consequences of your insulting and thoughtless words."



Boat cruises Shuswap Lake while attached to trailer

Boat on lake with trailer

Warning: The video above includes coarse language

A video of a bizarre scene recently on Shuswap Lake has been viewed by millions of people around the world. 

Rob Winder posted a video to Facebook showing a boat cruising Shuswap while still attached to a trailer.

“Now I have definitely heard of some boat launch fails, but this one might just take all the … cake,” said a laughing man in the video. “I guess he just doesn’t want to bother!”

The Sicamous man also posted the video to Instagram and tagged Shuswap Lake. 

The video has been viewed 6.4 million times on Facebook since being posted on May 16.



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